We are the only nomadic art museum in Denmark. We aim to create an accessible, engaged, and ever-changing museum that explores new ways of presenting contemporary art.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is an itinerant, shapeshifting museum located in Roskilde.
We research, commission, exhibit, collect, conserve and interpret contemporary art from 1960 and up until today. Our focus is on ephemeral art such as performance and interventions and on time based media such as sound, video and digital art – and especially on practices situated beyond the realms of the traditional museum venue.
A shapeshifting museum
Without a permanent address, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde operates as a nomadic museum: wandering and researching the city to find relevant places and contexts in Roskilde to temporarily settle in, collaborate with and exhibit at. Every now and then, it might even extend beyond the local context if it proves a relevant gesture.
Contemporary art can unfold in apartments, workplaces, in public space or in the digital realm – anywhere really – and the museum will therefore be taking many different shapes depending on the context, artists and artworks.
By incorporating such a flexible and experimental approach, the museum’s engagement with the sites in the city can range from interventions of precious minutes to a couple of days, or from several weeks to long-term residencies or artistic programmes. The latter opens way for site and theme specific engagements stretching over several years and a first illustration of this is to be found in the three year artistic programme at the former psychiatric hospital in Roskilde, Sankt Hans.
We left our museum building to come closer to, and be more active in society. We want to create a more diverse, inclusive and accessible museum by exploring alternative ways that new audiences can encounter and engage with contemporary art.
By always working from the different temporalities, intensities, and sensibilities within each context, we aim to propose meaningful exchanges and to open important conversations about society.
Our activities will grow out of or into the existing fabrics and infrastructures of Roskilde, and will most often meet our audience exactly where they are.
Safeguarding the heritage of ephemeral and hybrid artforms
The museum was established in 1991 following the international Fluxus festival (Festival of Fantastics) that took place all over the city in 1985. Its primary goal was to preserve the heritage of ephemeral art forms that often were forgotten or disregarded in comparison with the more tangible objects in museums. The urgency of securing and taking care of this heritage has not become any less acute, and it is the ambition of the museum to be at the forefront of safeguarding the heritage of ephemeral and hybrid art forms.
Today the collection and the programme at the museum still center around ephemeral art such as performance and interventions and time based media such as sound, video and lately also digital art. What is new is an increasing emphasis on practices situated beyond the white cube, which means that we are no longer a museum that takes care of artforms that do not fit well into museums – instead we have created a museum that has adapted its modus operandi to ephemeral art and time based media.
Exploring new ways of being a museum. Slowly.
If we were to create a museum today, what would it look like? Probably quite different. We believe it is relevant to ask fundamental questions about what a museum is and can be. And to explore new institutional directions and practices. The world is changing and like all institutions in society faced with extensive challenges the museum must continuously reimagine and reshape itself to accommodate and engage with contemporary artists and topics.
After 30 years in the prominent Yellow Palace, the museum moved out in 2021 and is today the only art museum in Denmark without a permanent building. A bold and rare decision, even on the international museum scene, proving to be a springboard for a radical reinvention that is now slowly taking form.
Slowly, because real change takes time. In museums too.
The Museum of Contemporary Art holds a collection of Danish and international contemporary art, which is gradually expanded with works created within the last 25 years. The main focus of the collection is the latest modes of expression: performance art, sound art, social art, new media etc. and the collection is continuously being adjusted to the latest currents.
The museum strives to create a collection that formulates a broad mediation of contemporary art. The collection is also the object of research – both into the latest forms of art as well as to the issues that pertain to the undertaking of a collection.
The works in the collection are registered in the Cultural Heritage Agency’s central index KID (Kunst Indeks Danmark) in which you can browse the collections of this and other museums.
Photo: Zoba’ah ( زوبعة ): The Whirlwind, 2022 by Morehshin Allahyari. Art piece from the collection.
The museum archive is located at Musicon i Roskilde and consists- among other things –of
The museum gladly accepts works and donations for its collection and archives. The museum assesses whether the works are appropriate for the collection.